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Pseudowintera - Growing Guide
Growing Pseudowintera colorata
Commonly known as ‘New Zealand Peppertrees’
Each autumn, as the drab dark days of winter creep up on us, it is always a revelation to visit the tunnel in the nursery where the five forms of this plant which we grow suddenly put on a remarkably colourful foliage display. The reds, pinks and white colour mixtures on the leaves are quite startling and very varied between the different named varieties. Some have spots of red within the leaf and some are a more uniform red colour. As autumn progresses to winter and early spring these foliage plants certainly earn their keep.
P. colorata grows to only around 3ft with a similar spread. They do best in a sheltered border or a woodland garden. The thick leathery evergreen leaves are mainly green in colour with some pink or red spotting and edging but come into their own in winter. The flowers are fairly insignificant in March and April and consist of small clusters of two to five greenish yellow or white blooms. These are followed by red or black fruits which are not especially prominent either.
You will get the best from these plants if grown in full sun which will help to develop the leaf colours to best effect. In too much shade you will not see the same effect.
The reference books suggest these plants are not fully hardy but we would beg to differ. As these plants are grown more widely so their hardiness has been more tested. Massed clusters of P. colorata are a common feature today in municipal and supermarket plantings.
Cuttings may be taken from semi-ripe new growth in mid summer. As evergreens you might expect them to root best in early autumn with bottom heat but we have not found this to be the case. Late cuttings seem to damp off and rot over winter.
As to which of the named forms is the best there is no simple answer! Have a look at what is on offer and make your own personal choice. P. colorata ‘Red Glow’ gets my vote.